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BY Paula Rosenberg

Study Finds Women's Earning Potential Peaks at 35

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

TAGS: Pay gap, Wage gap, FMLA, Maternity leave, Workplace, Parental leave, Working moms

We like to think that the glass ceiling is shattering and in some ways it is. When entering the workforce, women are earning just as much if not more than their male counterparts. Where pay discrepancy still shows up is with mid- or senior-level professionals. A recent study in the UK found that once women hit 35 their male peers start earning considerably more than they do. What is even more disheartening is that gap widens every year. According to the study, by the time a woman hits 40 her male counterpart is earning about $2.50 more per hour.

One might look at these figures and assume its because men end up moving on to careers in fields with higher earning potentials. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. Women over 40 were paid on average 35% less than men who have the same role across positions in a variety of sectors. So why is there this pay discrepancy between women and men as they hit their career stride?

One explanation is that women tend to perform better at school and are more likely to pursue higher education immediately following high school than men. This factors into women earning more when it comes to entry level positions. What accounts for this flip in pay scale mid-career? One hypothesis is that employers still tend to give a higher percentage of raises, bonuses and promotions to male employees even though that may be due to unconscious bias. At some companies women sense a stigma towards them even if they return to work after having a baby. There can also be perceptions that new moms aren't as ambitious or dedicated to their careers as they were pre-parenthood.

Is there a way to solve this mid and senior level pay inequity? Many experts believe the key to solving this problem is for employers to allow more flexibility in the workplace to parents. This isn't just about allowing moms to have more control over their schedules. True equality means allowing fathers more paternal leave and reign over their hours so the parental responsibilities can be shared. Studies have shown that working moms' earning potentials tend to continue to increase when their partners are able to take benefits like paternity leave.

In some countries strides are being taken in this direction. Many European countries offer paid paternity leave, and countries that offer significantly more time off for new parents allow partners the flexibility to split that time between each other. While the United States doesn't mandate that paid parental leave needs to be given and protected maternity leave is only twelve weeks under FMLA, more companies are jumping on board with the notion of not just offering job-protection during maternity leave, but also fully-paid maternity leave.

The Fairygodboss community has crowdsourced maternity leave benefits at thousands of companies and our members have named almost 100 companies that offer well above the 12 weeks standard unpaid maternity leave required under FMLA. Law firms appear to be leading the charge with some firms such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Debevoise & Plimpton offering upwards of 20 weeks maternity leave. Companies in the technology industry also appear to be generous in their policies. Netflix just announced unlimited maternity leave, Microsoft announced a 20 week maternity leave, and you'll see in our database that Google is reported to give 18 weeks, Instagram 17 and Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Pinterest all offer 16 weeks.

While its great to see more organizations improving their policies when it comes to parental leave, its unfortunate that pay equality doesn't seem to continue for so many women past their mid thirties. However knowing what benefits to look for and finding companies that will allow you the flexibility you need can help you stay ahead of the curve on benefits that amount to pretty important compensation.

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Related Community Discussions

  • Does anyone here work for a major financial institution in the new york metropolitan area? I have yet to find a straight answer on the internet or the company website regarding when my eligibilty for 16 week paid maternity leave would start. Are paid maternity leave benefits usually the same across the board for all major financial firms? I just found out I am pregnant (in my first trimester) and by the time I take my maternity leave I would be only nine months in my new job. Would like to hear about your company's eligibility requirements for paid maternity leave here please. Thank you so much...

  • I recently got engaged, will be married October 2017. My fiance and I want to start a family right away. My job does not have paid maternity leave. Would it be premature for me to advocate for paid leave? My initial thought process was to figure this out as soon as possible. Maybe I should start looking for another job; researching other companies I noticed that most (all the one's that I saw) require employees to have been employed for a year before being offered paid maternity leave.

    If I could have my way I would stay where I am at and get paid leave.

    I have a positive relationship with my boss and can talk about this with him, however; he isn't the one who ultimately makes this decision, corporate does.

  • My company recently put in a nursing room/mother's room but it was designed in a way that the majority of the room is fogged glass - except one strip that runs right at sitting level that was left as transparent glass. I don't think it was done intentionally (men designed the room) but I now have to put up sheets of paper to cover the transparent strip of glass. Any idea on how to address this with my (all male) management team?

  • I recently had a child and worked out an arrangement with my manager to work from home 1-2 days/week. I'm the only female on my team and none of the co-workers have a similar arrangement. There have been discreet comments made about my schedule (mostly in a joking way) but it still feels uncomfortable. Has anyone else ran into this?

  • I need some advice. I recently took maternity leave, which ended up turning in to Temporary Disability Leave because of some medical complications I had after the baby was delivered. I returned back to work after being off for 24 weeks. I have returned to the same job and have tried to get back into the swing of corporate life + new baby (first time mom here) and have the opportunity to take an additional 4 weeks off paid by the state, but it needs to be taken and completed before my child turns 12 months old and that's fast approaching.

    I submitted a request to HR to take temporary leave of absence and my HR department is denying me the ability to take this leave, stating that I exhausted the 13 weeks FMLA that the company offers (has to offer) to all employees. They are saying that I don't qualify for this leave until a full 12 months after my initial leave started. Everything I have read online and everyone I have talked to say that FMLA and TCI leave are completely different and separate. Technically, I think I am allowed to take this leave, the State says I qualify for it, but it's now in my employers hands and I am afraid if they deny me, and I choose to still take the leave, that I will not have job security. The brochure talking about TCI doesn't say anything about FMLA being the deciding factor "http://www.dlt.ri.gov/tdi/pdf/TCIBrochure.pdf."

    Does anyone know what my rights are? Can I legally take the 4 weeks off, and still have a job to return back to? Given that I had to take so much time off, do I still qualify for job protection and benefits?

    Thank you for any an all help.

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Study Finds Women's Earning Potential Peaks at 35

Study Finds Women's Earning Potential Peaks at 35

We like to think that the glass ceiling is shattering and in some ways it is. When entering the workforce, women are earning just as much if not more than...

We like to think that the glass ceiling is shattering and in some ways it is. When entering the workforce, women are earning just as much if not more than their male counterparts. Where pay discrepancy still shows up is with mid- or senior-level professionals. A recent study in the UK found that once women hit 35 their male peers start earning considerably more than they do. What is even more disheartening is that gap widens every year. According to the study, by the time a woman hits 40 her male counterpart is earning about $2.50 more per hour.

One might look at these figures and assume its because men end up moving on to careers in fields with higher earning potentials. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. Women over 40 were paid on average 35% less than men who have the same role across positions in a variety of sectors. So why is there this pay discrepancy between women and men as they hit their career stride?

One explanation is that women tend to perform better at school and are more likely to pursue higher education immediately following high school than men. This factors into women earning more when it comes to entry level positions. What accounts for this flip in pay scale mid-career? One hypothesis is that employers still tend to give a higher percentage of raises, bonuses and promotions to male employees even though that may be due to unconscious bias. At some companies women sense a stigma towards them even if they return to work after having a baby. There can also be perceptions that new moms aren't as ambitious or dedicated to their careers as they were pre-parenthood.

Is there a way to solve this mid and senior level pay inequity? Many experts believe the key to solving this problem is for employers to allow more flexibility in the workplace to parents. This isn't just about allowing moms to have more control over their schedules. True equality means allowing fathers more paternal leave and reign over their hours so the parental responsibilities can be shared. Studies have shown that working moms' earning potentials tend to continue to increase when their partners are able to take benefits like paternity leave.

In some countries strides are being taken in this direction. Many European countries offer paid paternity leave, and countries that offer significantly more time off for new parents allow partners the flexibility to split that time between each other. While the United States doesn't mandate that paid parental leave needs to be given and protected maternity leave is only twelve weeks under FMLA, more companies are jumping on board with the notion of not just offering job-protection during maternity leave, but also fully-paid maternity leave.

The Fairygodboss community has crowdsourced maternity leave benefits at thousands of companies and our members have named almost 100 companies that offer well above the 12 weeks standard unpaid maternity leave required under FMLA. Law firms appear to be leading the charge with some firms such as Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Debevoise & Plimpton offering upwards of 20 weeks maternity leave. Companies in the technology industry also appear to be generous in their policies. Netflix just announced unlimited maternity leave, Microsoft announced a 20 week maternity leave, and you'll see in our database that Google is reported to give 18 weeks, Instagram 17 and Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn and Pinterest all offer 16 weeks.

While its great to see more organizations improving their policies when it comes to parental leave, its unfortunate that pay equality doesn't seem to continue for so many women past their mid thirties. However knowing what benefits to look for and finding companies that will allow you the flexibility you need can help you stay ahead of the curve on benefits that amount to pretty important compensation.

Fairygodboss

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace and lives of women.
Join us by reviewing your employer!
 

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